The Role of Facebook in Legislative Campaigns in Chile (2017)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Abstract

How does Facebook shape electoral campaigns and election results in contemporary democracies? Available research confronts several limitations to addressing that question effectively. This proposal seeks to jointly tackle three limitations: (1) the perils of conceptualizing the online campaign as the “only” or “main” campaign activity; (2) the limits set by analyzing highly visible (usually national-level) campaigns that do not vary in terms of the socioeconomic and local political context in which they are deployed; and (3) the limits set by analyzing campaigns mainly in highly developed Western societies, which might constrain the observed “varieties of social network use” in a broader range of societies. Our research exploits the synergies of jointly analyzing Social Science One data with the data we have already gathered on (a) the 186 online electoral campaigns (in Twitter and Facebook) of congressional candidates that ran in Chile’s 2017 elections; (b) the “on the ground” campaigns of 17 additional candidates for which we also have observed online campaigns; (c) contextual data on candidate’s traits, electoral strategizing, campaign funding and spending, and districts political and socioeconomic characteristics; (d) the online presidential campaigns that occurred concurrently with the congressional campaign, inducing some candidates to exploit coattail effects; and (e) a database of 50 campaigns observed in the pre-Facebook era in comparable districts to those sampled in 2017. Our transdisciplinary team is already working together at Chile’s Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data, a leading research center in Latin America that specializes in assessing the sociopolitical impact of “data” in contemporary societies.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Juan Pablo Luna

Professor of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Juan Pablo Luna is professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with a joint appointment at the Instituto de Ciencia Política and at the Escuela de Gobierno. He received his BA in applied social sciences from the UCUDAL (Uruguay) and his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Segmented Representation: Political Party Strategies in Unequal Democracies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and has coauthored Latin American Party Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2010). In 2014, along with Cristobal Rovira, he coedited The Resilience of the Latin American Right (Johns Hopkins University Press). His work on political representation, state capacity, and organized crime has appeared in the following journals: Comparative Political Studies, Revista de Ciencia Política, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Política y Gobierno, Democratization, Perfiles Latinoamericanos, and the Journal of Democracy. He is currently associate editor of Latin American Politics and Society and coedits Cambridge University Press Elements’ Politics and Society in Latin America.

Participants

Cristian Pérez-Muñoz

Associate Professor of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Cristian Pérez-Muñoz is an associate professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a junior researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data. He earned his PhD and MA from the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His teaching and research interests include normative political theory, public policy, and applied ethics. He has published manuscripts and won major research grants on ethical aspects of redistributive programs such as tax policies, income distribution proposals, the production and provision of essential services, street-level charity programs, and welfare policies. His research in these areas has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies, The Political Quarterly, the Journal of Public Policy, the Journal of Social Philosophy, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, and Social Theory and Practice, among others. He is also the coeditor of Revista de Ciencia Política (RCP).

Barbara Poblete

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Barbara Poblete is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department of the Universidad de Chile and an associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data. She holds a PhD in computer science from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain. She was a researcher for Yahoo! Labs for five years, first in Barcelona and then Santiago. Her research areas are web data mining, social network analysis, and web IR. She is an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering journal, editorial board member for Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval (FnTIR), and senior PC member for the conferences SIGIR and KDD (and PC member of several other top-tier conferences in her areas). Her work on time-sensitive credibility in microblogging platforms, published in WWW 2011 and in the Internet Research journal (2013), was the first on this particular topic (with ~2,300 citations according to Google Scholar), and has been featured in mainstream media such as Scientific American magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, the Huffington Post, BBC News, and NPR.

Fernando Rosenblatt

Associate Professor of Political Science, Universidad Diego Portales

  • Bio ▾

    Fernando Rosenblatt is associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. He studies the reproduction of activism in party organizations in Latin America. He has coauthored a study of the effects of positive incentives for compliant taxpayers in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has studied the effects of a housing policy in Uruguay. He has published in Comparative Political Studies, Party Politics, Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, Democratization, Política y Gobierno, and Revista de Ciencia Política. His book, Party Vibrancy and Democracy in Latin America, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. In collaboration with Verónica Pérez and Rafael Piñeiro, he has a forthcoming book entitled How Party Activism Survives: Uruguay´s Frente Amplio, which will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Sergio Toro

Associate Professor of Political Science, Universidad de Concepción

  • Bio ▾

    Sergio Toro, PhD in political science, is associate professor and chair of DemoData (Informational Center for Democracy) at the University of Concepcion. His academic interests are comparative politics, Chilean politics, and data science for public policies. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Legislative Studies, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Economy, Bulletin of Latin American Research, World Political Science Review, and Revista de Ciencia Política, among others. He was consultant for the United Nations Development Programme in Chile (UNDP), president of the Chilean Association of Political Science (ACCP) (2014–2016), and visiting scholar at universities in Spain, Ecuador, and the United States.

Sebastián Valenzuela

Associate Professor at the School of Communication & Associate Researcher of the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Sebastián Valenzuela is associate professor in the School of Communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Tinker Visiting Professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research concerns the role of journalism and social media on public opinion. More specifically, his work delves into three themes: (a) uses and effects of social media on citizenship, diffusion of information, and psychological well-being; (b) the influence of the news media on public opinion formation; and (c) the antecedents and consequences of informal political conversations. He is also an associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD) and the National Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN). There, he studies information and misinformation acquisition on social media. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and is editor-in-chief of Cuadernos.info, a journal specialized in communications in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain. Relatedly, he chairs the Latin American advisory committee for Social Science One and sits on the editorial board of several publications, including Communication Research, the Journal of Communication, and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Valenzuela completed his PhD in 2011 at the University of Texas at Austin.

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